In Los Angeles, "Vanderpump Rules." In Southampton, Zach Erdem rules — at least when it comes to restaurant-based reality shows about young employees and their shenanigans. Such is "Serving the Hamptons," set at his 75 Main, premiering Thursday on Discovery+.
Two of the nine-member cast are Long Island natives. VIP host Samantha Crichton, 21, was born in Manhasset and raised in Bellmore, while server Hailey Druek, 22, was born in Southampton and grew up in East Quogue. They star alongside owner Erdem, fellow VIP host Jillian Gough, server Jack Tavcar, bartenders Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jodie Bisasor, chef Brogan Wu, DJ Ethan Thompson and manager Victoria Hilton.
"I found myself in a girl's worst nightmare," says Crichton lightheartedly, speaking by phone from home. "A love triangle turned love square turned possibly even love pentagon. It was," she says, "definitely an interesting summer."
The two were among the roughly 100 staffers Erdem has on payroll each summer at 75 Main. Adding to the show's drama, the cast lived together in a beach house he provided. He does normally arrange housing for his summer hires, he told Newsday separately, though not quite this luxuriously.
On the show, the arrangement comes with strings attached — rules that range from the usual (be on time for work) to the personal (no dating fellow employees). "Any other person goes to work and when they go home, those two things are completely separate," says Crichton, a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, currently on a break from her studies at the University of Arizona. "So for work rules to now be in your personal living space, it's hard."
Balancing that, says Druek — a Westhampton Beach High graduate who earned an associate degree at Suffolk County Community College before trying to break into acting in Los Angeles — is "the very cool experience being in front of that camera. You're totally being yourself, but you're ham-acting a bit — playing up 'you' a little more, elevating your personality. Our producer said to us, 'What you give is what you get. So if you really don't want to be on camera, you're not going to be in the episode.' So I think we all had that in the back of our heads."
Indeed, series producer Robert Friedman himself appears in one episode's birthday-dinner scene, along with the restaurant's publicist, former Hicksville resident Todd Shapiro.
Druek, now back at home with mom Dianne, a personal trainer — dad Jeff, the founder and CEO of a yacht manufacturer, lives in Florida — has been working in hospitality, including as a bartender in her hometown.
Crichton, who as a teen with the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra sang at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere, has been raising capital for a startup, Sosas Martini, that she describes as "a new way to package an alcoholic beverage." She splits her time living in East Hampton with mom Jessica Daniell, who works for Mercedes-Benz of Southampton, and Bellmore with dad Michael Crichton, who owns Long Island Shower Door.
"It was the experience of a lifetime to work with my now really good friends and to live with them," Druek says. Echoes Crichton, "I'm a little nervous to watch all the memories we've already made, but I can't wait to make more memories."